US 20060043746 A1
The semi-tractor fifth wheel assembly by which a semi-trailer (trailer) is coupled to the tractor of a tractor-trailer combination vehicle can be released by this special decoupling tool (FIG. 1), which includes a main body shaft (leverage) cylindrical lever bar having a removable, adjustable, telescopic torque handle that ends opposite to a fulcrum end, and attached there between is an adjustable, telescopic, elongated fifth wheel hook member within a pivot arm. This decoupling tool also contains an on-board adjustable, telescopic tandem hook for releasing tandem couplings. The telescopic fifth wheel hook is adjustable to allow for releasing a trailer in restricted locations and the telescopic tandem hook is adjustable to allow for releasing the tandem pins in restricted locations. The removable handle can also be used as a tire thumper to sound check air pressure and as a spotter tool when backing a trailer in limited visual areas. To absorb shock and eliminate dragging of metal against metal when place against the side of the trailer, there is a rubber end cap or hard plastic, Neopreem or other suitable material, installed on the fulcrum end of the cylindrical lever_bar. To unlock the fifth wheel assembly and allow decoupling of the tractor from the trailer, the adjustable fifth wheel hook is looped over the fifth wheel release handle and the fulcrum end of the cylindrical lever bar is placed in bearing engagement with a suitable side surface of the vehicle so movement of the lever bar about its fulcrum end will pull the fifth wheel release handle and disengage the tractor's fifth wheel assembly from the trailer's king pin device. There are primarily two manufacturing types of fifth wheel release handle mechanisms, Holland and Fontaine, which the adjustable elongated fifth wheel hook will unlock. The Holland fifth wheel can be released with the fifth wheel hook in the up or down position. With the Fontaine fifth wheel, the hook must be facing up to engage the fifth wheel release handle. Unique to this tool is the ability to interchange the adjustable fifth wheel hook with the on-board adjustable tandem hook, which simplifies the at times dangerous and difficult job of sliding tandem pins. To change the fifth wheel hook for the tandem hook, remove the locking pin from the pivot arm's adjustment hole and replace the longer fifth wheel hook with the shorter tandem release hook member. After securing the tandem hook in the desired hole of the pivot arm, engage the tandem hook over the tandem release lever on the trailer. Place the fulcrum end of the lever bar with the handle against the trailer or suitable side surface of the vehicle. Pull the handle upward in an arc toward the operator until the movement of the lever bar is about its fulcrum end allowing the tandem release handle to drop into the locking slot. The pins disengage from the tandem slider mechanism thereby shifting the load for proper weight distribution. After the tandems move into proper position, remove the torque handle and rap the release tandem handle on the trailer to re-engage the pins into a locking position.
2. The fifth wheel assembly of the type used for coupling the trailer to the tractor of a tractor-trailer vehicle and a decoupling tool that can be used for unlocking said fifth wheel to allow decoupling of the tractor and trailer, and release of the tandem pins on said trailer to allow weight redistribution of the load, the combination comprising:
(a) a fifth wheel carried on the frame of the tractor between the drive tires thereof, said fifth wheel adapted for lockable coupling the trailer to the tractor;
(b) a release handle on said fifth wheel and extending laterally there from transverse to the longitudinal axis of the frame of said tractor, said release handle formed in a hook-shaped configuration and upon being pulled will unlock said fifth wheel to allow decoupling of the trailer from the tractor; and
(c) a tandem release handle device that allows tandem pins to disengage, which are located within the slider mechanism of a tandem semi-trailer, and therefore allows the tandems to slide allowing for better weight distribution between the drive tires and the tandem's real wheel assembly of the trailer and
(d) a portable decoupling combination tool with telescoping interchangeable, adjustable fifth-wheel and tandem release hooks, that is used to unlock the two most common types of fifth wheel locking mechanisms, and allows separation of a semi-tractor and trailer, and to release the tandem pins on the slider mechanism of a tandem assembly to move, combination comprising,
(1) an end cap,
(2) an elongated main body shaft with three adjustable handle holes,
(3) a pivot arm with three adjustable hook holes,
(4) a main body shaft plates,
(5) a hex headed bolt,
(6) a locking nut,
(7) a torque handle which can be removed to uses as a tire tester/thumper and spotter device,
(8) a twenty-seven inch fifth wheel hook,
(9) a twelve inch tandem hook,
(10) a tandem hook storage holder,
(11) a tandem hook storage holder with ring pin fastener,
(12) a rubber grip handle casing covering the torque handle,
(13) holes for hook adjustment,
(14) holes for handle adjustment, and
(15) three ring pins to secure hook and handle; and
(e) also the decoupling tool handle can be used to sound check the tire pressure and as a spotter tool when backing into visually difficult areas, eliminating the need for extra tools; and
(f) using this new tool, unlike prior art models which only allowed decoupling in areas where there was adequate room between vehicles, this new improved tool allows the driver to decouple in restricted areas such as rail yards, small docks, drop yards, and other compact spaces by moving the telescopic hooks into there shortest setting.
3. The (1) end cap, constructed from rubber or hard plastic, covers the fulcrum end of the (2) main body shaft to reduce friction, scraping, and damage caused by metal on metal when applied to a usable surface of the vehicle.
4. The main body shaft housing (2), which has welded (11) tandem hook storage holder with ring pin fastener and (10) tandem hook storage holder, and (4) main body shaft plates, is constructed with holes drilled for handle adjustment to secure the (7) removable torque handle/combination tire tester for leverage and to support the pivot arm that is bolted into the main body shaft plates.
5. The (3) pivot arm with adjustment holes is constructed to secure the (11) tandem hook or (8) fifth wheel hook.
6. The (4) two main body shaft plates is designed as a plate hinge unit that is welded to (2) the main body shaft to bolt (3) the pivot arm into place with a (5) hex bolt and secured with a (6) locking nut.
7. The (5) hex headed bolt used to secure (3) pivot arm into (4) the main body shaft plates.
8. The (6) locking nut for hex headed bolt used to secure (5) bolt in place.
9. The (7) torque handle/removable tire thumper covered by the rubber grip is inserted into (2) the main body shaft and is use for leverage to pull (8) the fifth wheel hook or (9) the tandem hook or can be removed from the tool and used separately as a tire thumper or vehicle spotter.
10. The twenty-seven inch (8) fifth wheel hook is used to release a tractor-trailer fifth wheel when inserted into (3) the pivot arm of the (2) main body shaft.
11. A twelve inch (9) tandem hook is used to release the tandem release lever for sliding tandems when inserted into the (3) pivot arm on the (2) main body shaft of tool.
12. A (10) tandem storage hook holder is mounted on the (2) main body shaft plate and contains the (9) tandem hook when the hook is not in use.
13. The (11) tandem hook storage holder with ring pin fastener is welded toward the bottom of the (2) external main body shaft and holds the (9) tandem hook when the hook is not in use.
14. The (12) rubber grip handle which covers the (7) removable torque handle/combination tire tester and allows for a better grasp while operating the tool.
15. The (13) holes for the hook adjustment located in the (3) pivot arm which secures the (8) fifth wheel hook or the (9) tandem hook while in use.
16. The (14) holes for the handle adjustment located on the (2) main body shaft are used to secure the (7) removable torque handle/combination tire tester using the (15) ring pin.
17. The (15) ring pins are inserted into the (14) handle holes in the (2) main body shaft to secure the (7) removable torque handle/tire tester and inserted into the pivot arm assembly to secure the selected hook and in the storage tandem hook holder.
18. With the exception of the end cap, rubber grip handle, and the pins used to secure the hooks, handle and pivot arm, the tool may be constructed using one of the following materials:
(a) black pipe
(b) steel piping
(c) hard plastic or palmers materials
(d) solid steal pipe
(e) or any cylindrical piping.
This invention called a “Fifth-Wheel Hook/Tandem Hook Release Tool.” It is a portable combination tool for use by truck drivers that provides numerous functions that were previously only available in several other separate tools. The present tool has two (2) telescoping tubes that are held in position by locking cotter-type pins. The hook-tube portion of the assembly attaches to the structure of a fifth-wheel trailer plate to facilitate the trailer's release from the pulling unit. The additional hook attachment is used to facilitate a tandem trailer's release from a pulling unit. The grip portion of the assembly is used to provide leverage for facilitating the release of the trailer from the pulling unit. No spring is used in this device. The grip portion of the assembly may also be used as a “tire thumper” to ensure proper inflation of a truck's tires.